The Hurt

by Rhonda, November 01, 2023

I drove home in tears as the rain hit the windshield.  I turned on the headlights and wiped my tears.  The weather perfectly matched my mood, and I felt the anger welling up inside of me.  

It isn't easy when your parents age, and sometimes it feels like it is a slow loss of the people you once knew, the people you loved so dearly as a child.  Today, I am mourning the loss of my Mom.  She's still with me, don't get me wrong.  But, age and traumatic life experiences have robbed her of her ability to think well, make decisions, and find joy in her life.  She's in there somewhere, buried under severe depression, medication and a lot of fear.

How I miss her.  How I need her.

I want her to fight harder.  I want her to somehow find herself again, to do everything possible to take back the life that's slowly been drained from her.  But an aging mind combined with mental illness is a beast, and she can't find her way out of it.    

And of course, I'm angry.  I wouldn't be me if I wasn't angry, after all.

I was thinking tonight about how much fun we used to have together.  When I was growing up, we used to love to go to Sonic.  We would always search the house for loose change to afford a drink and some tater tots at Sonic.  The change would always appear somehow, found in pockets of jackets or at the bottom of her purse.  As soon as we counted enough, we would jump in the minivan, and talk as we sat in the car sharing tater tots and drinking our cherry limeades.  

Those are some of the greatest memories of my Mom.  We laughed a lot together when I was a teenager and I poured my heart out to her over and over.  Now, she rarely has energy for more than a twenty minute conversation.  It isn't her fault, I know it isn't.  But, I miss her so much.

So, tonight I did what I always do, and I took to my journal.  I struggle so much with processing things like this, things that hurt so much.  But, God showed me that I know my Mom's heart even if her actions don't align, even if her illness hides who she really is.  

I wrote this down:

Just remember she has a beautiful heart, and you know this truth.  You can trust that you know her heart even when you can't trust her actions.  Her actions are dictated by fear.  But her heart is not, so remember to never trust anything dictated by fear.  I know it hurts, but you are strong enough to stand on the word of Jesus and look past it.  God's strength is sufficient for this and you can stand on His strength and believe the truth.  You do not have to crumble under things like this anymore because they do not have the power to take you down.  Nope.  Not when you have God.  

These types of realizations are probably not earth shattering for people who possess common sense.  However, it is news to me that I do not have to fall apart dealing with this type of pain and live with anger and bitterness.  I have never, truly understood that I can allow myself to process the hurt and the loss without having it turn into destruction.  Blessed are those who mourn (Matt 5:4), after all, the Bible tells me.  But, allowing myself to mourn and process hurt is different from crumbling into anger, despair, and dysfunction.  

A situation can hurt.  But, I can survive it.

I've never had hurt without needing to rectify the situation, by either taking revenge or exploding or building up a case in my mind against someone.  But to allow myself permission to hurt and let that be okay?  Just allow myself to miss my Mom and acknowledge it hurts without having it become a dark thing in me that makes me angry?

That's new.  

I have to learn how to be sad without anger.  Its been so long since I've allowed that, because there's something about allowing sadness without anger that makes me feel helpless and somehow vulnerable.  If I'm angry, I'm taking action and taking control of the situation.

But this one?  I can't fix it.  I can support her, get her to doctors, get her into therapy, and read her Bible with her.  But, despite my best attempts, I absolutely, positively can't fix it.  

And it hurts.